Saturday, October 8, 2011

Blood of the King

Sometime around 1958, Saint Paul, Minnesota

My birth mom Charlane carried the blood of The King. Pretty lofty words, you might think I was descended from royalty, but it’s not exactly like that. Actually this was The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. Now what is this boy talking about?

You know the scene, screaming girls and Elvis shaking his hips. Charlane was there, in some Civic Auditorium in 1958. I can’t say I was in her womb, but perhaps my connection to The King is a bit more subtle, a bit more elusive than being a teenybopper’s soon to be adopted son drifting in fluid while Elvis and Scotty Moore work it out on Mystery Train. I can’t make that claim, like being conceived at Woodstock or something.

In the midst of all the screaming and crappy sound system, girls were throwing things up on stage. Not like notes or roses, but pictures in frames and big heavy notebooks to sign. One of these objects hit him square in the forehead, drawing blood. There was a hush in the crowd as the music stopped for a second and Elvis dabbed at his wound, looking vindictively into the crowd for help or to find out who threw it. Suddenly a flurry of handkerchiefs floated onto stage from the front rows, girls were pouring up to the front and laying out there handkerchiefs for Elvis.

He was so thankful and polite. He leaned down to choose one and a girl gasped, cupping her hands over her mouth. Elvis dabbed the blood for a moment and smiled at the crowd again, backing away toward the band. He counted off a One Two Three and went into Teddy Bear just like that, putting pressure on his wound the whole time.
As the song was finishing, The King walked toward the front of the stage and, according to Charlane, looked straight at her and then didn’t really throw, but let go of the handkerchief, and like a leaf it flew down into her outstretched hands. The red stain was still wet and warm.

She kept the memento for some years, and I’d like to think it was still there in her room, folded neatly under glass, red stain peeking through, the day I was born. But the story goes that her Mother, who was quite a serious non emotional person, threw it away one day in a cleaning frenzy. It’s not clear if she knew what it was and thought her daughter didn’t need it or if it were just an oversight, another non descript item lying around. It could go either way.